About Me

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The name is Selvamani.R. I was born in Rangoon, Burma now known as Yangoon and Myanmar respectively. I had my schooling in I.E.S. .Khalsa School there in Rangoon and came to Tamilnadu, India, did my Pre-University in Sir Thegaraya College,Chennai and M.B.B.S., in Madurai Medical College. Later did my Diploma and Masters Degree in the Regional Institute of Ophthalmology, Egmore, Madras Medical College, Chennai.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Hole In The Pocket

One day in Rangoon, Burma [I was about 13 years old then ] I went alone to a wayside pavement stall and took some Burmese dish.
It was a bit far from home and not our usual loitering place but I just wanted to try the shop.
After finishing the food the owner asked for money.
When I put my hand inside my pants pocket I was in for a jolt as it had a huge hole. I had lost my money and my immediate concern was how to get out of the predicament.

I tried to lie out of it saying that I have already paid the money. But he didn’t believe me and asked to whom I paid to.
I saw his wife a bit further off handling the food and replied that I paid the money to her thinking that he would let me go off with that.
But he called her and asked for confirmation.
She looked hard at me and said yes, much to my relief.

However my consciousness was bothering me and the next day I decided to go and pay the money.
I waited awhile till the woman was alone and approached her.
I gave her the money and told her the story.
She said that she knew that I haven’t paid the money.
She further said that I didn’t look like a cheater and has lied for some reason and had backed me up.
At that time the man has returned and wanted to know what was going on.
When she told the whole story he was very pleased. Both of them insisted on giving a free dish.
I ate in their food stall a few more times more as a thanks giving gesture though it was a bit far and every time they used to serve me with a large helping!!


In Rangoon during the week ends the boys lead by me, used to go to English films.
One day one of my friends J came to the film with us for the 12-30 p.m.[AN} show.
While returning he said that he had not obtained permission from his parents and asked us not to go via his house. We didn’t pay any heed to his plea and proceeded to march ahead. So he asked us not to tell them that he came for the film and went off in a different route.
We agreed to that.

When our gang was passing by his house his mother hailed us. We told her that we are returning from seeing a film.
She asked where his son was. When I said he didn’t come for the film she didn’t say anything.
The next day when J came for playing I told him about his mother’s query and asked him whether she enquired him about going to the film.
He grinned and said. “Since you said I haven’t been to the film she didn’t ask me about it. You see, everyone in our house says that you always speak the truth.”
On hearing it instead of being elated I was very much dismayed that I had lied to a person who has such high opinion about me.


An incident occurred in 7th standard.
In 7th standard in history period [ugh!] the teacher was teaching something
I was busy doing something by folding the paper [called Origami]. The teacher caught me and asked me to stand up [no, not on the bench- we were too old for that]. Then he proceeded to give me a thorough pasting.
He ended up by saying “I don't know what you are going to become?”
I have been listening sheepishly and was in half trance and blurted out instantly " Doctor, sir!”
This brought laughter from all of my classmates. But the teacher looked at me intently, waited till the laughter subsided and said." You have to understand the zeal in this boy" amidst the silence that suddenly transcended.
"He must be fiercely determined to say such thing like that spontaneously even under duress" He looked hard at me and said “Study well and I think you will attain your goal!".
I used to ponder over his statement often, as it was made under adverse circumstances.
I now look back seeing how farsighted he was and how accurate his forecast was.


I remember the first Tamil debate I attended ‘ Whether Hindi is required or not?”
One student , who spoke against Hindi imposition stole the show when he thundered
“ Kondavalai vittuvittu, kandavaludan thirivadha?” amidst loud cheering and thumping [translated it means why go after another woman when you have your wife].

The other debate was titled ‘Whether higher studies are possible in Tamil?”
A spoke for the team as ‘not possible’- saying that many words in English could not be translated properly in Tamil and gave ‘culture’ as an example.
He was severely back lashed by G, who said that ‘ Tamil astrologers had found out a connection between the stars and the people long ago which the westerners have started learning only now. He confided to me later that he gave that example as the Tamil teacher, who was presiding over the debate, was interested in Astrology.
He added that ‘Tamil is a vast ocean and it is not correct to say that there is no correct word to translate the word culture. People like A, who struggle to get pass mark in Tamil, should not pass judgment just like that.’
This brought loud cheers and a smile in Tamil teacher’s face. Though A tried to amend it in his windup speech, G won the first prize hands down.


I never scored a full 100 though my L.K.G. teacher encouraged me a lot. She was the one who encouraged me to draw and bring the artist inside me. I used to make some mistake in one sum or other.
In seventh standard in the Half Yearly exam we were given 16 sums to solve out of 20. The general complaint was that the time was not sufficient.
Few days later during the class I was surprised when the teacher called out my number. When I stood up he said "Why don't you read what is written in the Question paper first instead of straightaway barging and answering. You must spend at least ten minutes to read and reread the Q -paper. It's always worth it."

Then he turned to the class. “You all said that time was not sufficient for you to do 16 sums. Here is one student who has solved all the 20 sums.”
To the astonished class he continued “He has also put me in a sort of predicament. You see he has got one sum wrong and I don't know how to value the paper. Whether to take the correct 16 sums, or take the first 16 sums."
There were loud shouts from my friends who vociferously appealed that I must be given 100 or even more. The master was un-swayed and said he will think of something.
When the papers were given I was dismayed to see the marks calculated on a % basis and given 95. My friends objected but the master said that he has not calculated as for 16 but for 20 so the reduction was only 5. Further, he said it will teach me to read the Q-paper always well before answering.
It did. Thereafter I never misunderstood any Q in the Q- paper in my life!!
In the D.O. Exam some candidates mistook the question on Ptosis as Proptosis as the latter was expected.


In the10th standard- in Commercial Geography period we were suddenly asked to write the monthly test. I was caught unprepared. There were 2 Questions and I knew the answer for only one. It was about drawing the world map and marking some places. I drew the map and marked what all I knew and submitted the paper. After the test was over, my friends remarked that the teacher was standing just behind me all the time watching intently my drawing.
By this time everyone knew that I was her pet student mainly because of my drawing.

When the papers were returned after valuation I found that I got 9 out of 25 and I have failed, the pass mark being 10 [40%]. The usual custom was the concerned student who got the border mark will approach the teacher and she will invariably add the grace mark for pass. Sometimes even the students who got 8 marks will approach for grace marks and it will be dealt with according to the mood of the teacher.
A pass is important, as it will decide the ranking. At that time nobody else got 9 marks though there were 2 who got 8.
Everyone urged me to approach the teacher for the grace mark. As I was her favorite student there was never any doubt that she will add up the mark.
But I refused.
My contention was that I have not done well in the test and that is why I got 9 marks. The teacher knew me only too well and if she had wanted to she could very well have given 10.So it was her intention to convey that she was not pleased with my performance.
Since I did not approach for the grace nark the two students who got 8 and were waiting for me, lost hope and returned to their seats.
After the class was over the teacher called me and asked me to prepare the mark list for her to sign and give it to the Head Master the next day.
Good opportunity said one of my friends. Enter your mark as 10 and when you are getting her signature tell her, he said.
I still refused.
About half-hour later she came and called me from the class.
"I have to go on leave for 3 days urgently" she said." Have you prepared the mark list?".
I said "No."
“OK!" she said "I will sign a blank paper and give it to you. Fill the mark list and give it to the Head Master without fail."
She then gave me a blank signed paper. When I told this to my friend he was elated! Enter your mark as 10 and give it to HM, he said.
I, of course, refused, entered the mark list correctly and gave it to HM.
Three days later I saw the teacher.
I went to her and said I have handed over the mark list to the HM.
"Ok" she said.
Just when I was leaving she said "Oh. I forgot. You got 9 marks, isn't it?"
I concurred.
“I wanted to add 1 mark and make it 10. But I forgot. Did you make it as 10?" she queried.
”How could I, teacher! You never told me!” I said.
“But you will lose your ranking" she said. She knew the fierce struggle that goes on among the top 3 ranks.
“Shall I go to the HM and change your mark?”
“No, teacher. It doesn't matter. I will do well in the next exam."
She looked at me intently and said “ Mani, I am proud of you!"
The loss of one mark and fail cost me the rank and I went down in ranking.
But that hardly mattered considering the honor I had been bestowed!!

1 comment:

  1. I do not know in which year you did your schooling at I.E.S. Khalsa High School in Burma, but I did only my 10th. in the school in 1963. I had a history teacher by the name of Geetha Dey and and English teacher named Mr. Nicholas. Those were the days, they really were. I still remember them and I sorely wish I could go back there for a few days and see my home in Yankin and in Kanbe. Where in India are you living now?